Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday unveiled a 2019 budget of $88.7 billion, a $4 billion increase over the spending plan he proposed last year for 2018.
De Blasio didn’t propose any major new initiatives. He would continue to fund signature initiatives such as prekindergarten for all the city’s 4-year-olds and boosting the number of subsidized homes.
“The big pillars are in place and are naturally growing,” de Blasio said. “We’re not throwing out a whole host of big, flashy new programs. The things we’re talking about now are pretty modest.”
The proposed spending increases come as the administration warns of “the most draconian tax law in recent history,” passed by the GOP-controlled Congress and signed by President Donald Trump last year. The law cuts federal taxes for most New Yorkers but is likely to mean less money for the city from Washington, D.C.
De Blasio, a Democrat, estimates “New York City’s current total risk from Washington” at $700 million. “That could easily go up when the president puts out his budget this month,” de Blasio’s budget office said in a statement.
At issue as a result of the GOP tax bill is about $400 million for the city’s fiscally troubled public hospital system; $100 million because the city lost its ability to refinance with tax-exempt bonds; and $200 million because of a federal policy change that threatens a low-income housing tax credit.
The city hopes to figure out a way, in consultation with the state, to revise how local taxes are paid to address the federal tax law’s cap on state and local tax deductibility. De Blasio called the federal provision, “an affront to the people of New York and many other places.”
Most of the increases in the $88.7 billion budget are driven by labor costs and borrowing, de Blasio’s budget spokeswoman, Freddi Goldstein, said.
The budget also includes $12 million to help equip all NYPD patrol cops with body-worn cameras; $13 million to upgrade heating in the city’s housing projects; $5.2 million to combat “construction harassment” of tenants; and $8.2 million for anti-bullying efforts.
De Blasio’s budget represents an opening salvo. He and the City Council — led by fellow a Democrat, Speaker Corey Johnson — will negotiate a fiscal plan until the end of June, when the budget must be finalized by the start of the fiscal year: July 1, 2018.
The budget is $16 billion higher than the spending plan under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg that the city adopted at the end of 2013, just before de Blasio took office. De Blasio has increased spending every year he’s been in office. Bloomberg enacted budget cuts, typically in times of recession and economic downturn.
De Blasio also rebuffed a demand by the council’s Republican minority leader, Steven Matteo of Staten Island, to use property tax revenue — which he said totals $26 billion — to lower property taxes.
“Unless you want to give away all that revenue that supports everything we just discussed,” de Blasio said at a news conference, “that does not make sense.”